Eight months after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the remaining episodes of Chicago Fire, our favorites firefighters and paramedics at Firehouse 51 are back in action, and they haven’t missed a beat. The show’s hiatus didn’t stop it from showing the impacts of the pandemic in the world of NBC’s hit drama series: significantly less people working in the Firehouse, and characters acknowledging that the pandemic has affected a lot of the city and how it has affected their jobs.
The episode began with Joe Cruz literally running into work, and getting a quick temperature check before running inside. Chief Boden is in the middle of introducing the newest paramedic to the squad when Joe bursts into his office, apologizing for his tardiness because he hit a pot-hole on the way in. The new paramedic is introduced as Gianna Mackey (played by Adriyan Rae), who has known Joe all of her life.
Kelly Severide tells Matt Casey and Sylvie Brett that his girlfriend Stella Kidd’s Girl’s on Fire program was temporarily shut down due to the pandemic and that most of the office workers are working from home, leaving only the firefighters and paramedics inside. Brett then says that Emily Foster’s new job at Northwestern is also insane because of the pandemic. This was the show’s way of writing off the character after two seasons.
The Firehouse’s siren goes off, calling on Ambulance 61 to a call, giving Mackey and Brett their first call as new partners. The call is a possible overdose, and the victim’s brother appears and puts a gun to their heads, threatening violence if they try to take him to the hospital. In a huge act of bravery, Brett gets the victim on a stretcher and gets him into the ambulance, with the gunman chasing after them, and not a shot fired.
After returning back to the Firehouse, Joe immediately bombards Mackey with questions about her first call being so tense and insane. She calms him down nicely and goes into the kitchen to start making lunch for everyone, even giving a small smile to firefighter candidate Blake Gallo. I’m guessing this will be the first romance suspicion of the season, but I’m waiting for the day that Casey and Sylvie end up together.
Chief Boden informs Severide that Squad 3 are going to be testing new equipment on a Saturday, so they all have to come in. Stella then goes on a rant to her boyfriend about having her program shut down, and that she doesn’t want the young women that she’s inspired to lose interest in possibly being firefighters.
We now get our C plot of the episode, with my favorite characters Christopher Herrmann and “Mouch” McHolland. Herrmann learned about a guy who wrote a poem to a “hidden treasure” that tricked people into going out into nature, and he wants to do the same for Molly’s Patio, a new addition to Molly’s Bar, to lure people in for business. I’m sure they want to make sure that the bar is as socially distant as possible for when the characters go out for a drink after work. Candidate Darren Ritter overhears this and wants to help out with the poem. It’s Herrmann’s latest cash grab, and if history should repeat itself, it’ll most likely blow up in his face.
Boden informs his paramedics that the man who overdosed died in the hospital, causing Sylvie and Gianna to become nervous about the brother who pulled a gun on them while on the scene. Chicago P.D.’s Kim Burgess stops by to take a statement from them and informs them that the brother, Joe Halleck, has a long record of assault, robbery, and drug charges. The paramedics decide to stay on active duty but will be cautious if they see him.
After Gallo formally introduces himself to Gianna, Cruz pulls him aside and tells him to back off.
There’s a ray of sunshine in this episode, as Stella gets the all-clear to continue her Girls on Fire program, as long as it sticks to COVID regulations.
Mouch, Herrmann, and Ritter then bury the special Molly’s Coupon, which is free drinks for life. As I predicted earlier, they bury it outside the firehouse, which I’m sure will be extremely easy to find for anyone. I love the little plans that Herrmann gets himself into throughout the series. They then start writing the poem at the new Molly’s spot, and Ritter is shown to be incredibly helpful in poetry writing. As someone who also watches P.D. and Med, there isn’t a whole lot of lightheartedness in those shows, but Fire gives that in the form of Herrmann and Mouch. It used to be Cruz and Otis, but sadly, Otis’ character was killed off last season.
Everyone’s shift ends, and Sylvie heads home for the night. What she doesn’t know is that we get the “creepy stalker camera angle from a car” watching her as she drives away, and as she arrives home, her apartment door is slightly ajar. Calling Casey, he quickly arrives and they quietly go inside, thinking that Halleck might have broken in. They don’t find anything, and Casey says that he is staying the night on the couch just to make sure everything’s okay. They play “Head’s Up” together, and they are on the accent category, and Matt does a “terrible” Australian accent. I think this might be the fourth or fifth Australian joke they’ve made to Casey, since the actor who plays him (Jesse Spencer) is Australian in real life. The two laugh as they head off to bed. This little flirtmance BETTER turn into something real, come on, the fanbase wants it!
The next morning, Stella and Severide notice that Casey went to Sylvie’s, and they get suspicions that they might have been hooking up.
Herrmann and Mouch are doing a local TV ad for the Molly’s treasure hunt when the Firehouse is called to action. They arrive to the scene, which is a burning photography studio with dozens trapped inside. It should be noted that all paramedics and firemen standing outside were masked up. Sylvie gives advice to Gianna on helping victims as they get to work and wait for additional ambulances to help. Inside the building, Stella sees a couple of people run in the wrong direction to safety, and she runs after them. An explosion goes off in the building, trapping Severide and knocking his mask off. Stella knocks over a set statue in the studio and breaks a wall down to get to where Severide is. She gets his oxygen back on his face and frees him, and the two make it out of the building, while also saving one last victim before safely making it out.
Back in the Firehouse, Boden brings Stella into his office and shows her a picture of Engine 21, an 1872 squad of all-Black firefighters in Chicago. This is a real-life squad that has greatly impacted Chicago’s Fire Department. Boden says that there aren’t women or people of color involved in the CFD, and he wants her to take a lieutenant test when it is next offered. I LOVE this for Stella: her character development has been phenomenal over the last several seasons, and she’s grown to be a smart, and influential part of the series.
As said in the past, someone digs up the free drink coupon mere hours after the word was put out. As usual, one of Herrmann’s plans falls short, and now he has to give a guy free drinks forever.
Severide encourages Stella to take the lieutenant test, and that he is going to help her out to prepare for it.
Gallo, while getting the evil eye from Cruz, tries to avoid asking out Gianna. Gianna then asks herself out, pretending to be Gallo, giving him a wink as Ambulance 61 is called upon. As they being their drive, Joe Halleck drives next to them and tries to shoot them! The episode ends with both Halleck, and Ambulance 61 crashing off the side of the highway, and landing with a crash to the ground.
Overall, I would say this was a solid season premiere! It was great to see all of these characters, as well as get some new ones, along with a great cliffhanger to end the hour. The (hopeful) resolution will be solved in next week’s episode!
Are you happy to see Firehouse 51 back in action?
Chicago Fire Review – A Fire Gone Rogue (9×07)
Chicago Fire continues to hit the ground running as its ninth season progresses. Its use of many storylines, while keeping its use of action and real-life situations keep the series running strong. Tonight’s episode deals with yet another arson case as a close call in the field leaves Cruz worried about his transition to fatherhood.
After Severide and Kidd made up in last week’s episode, Kidd asks Chief Boden to allow her to take the lieutenant’s test, to which he insures her that he never removed her in the first place. Joe Cruz finally delivers the news that he and his wife are having a baby and hands cigars out to everyone in the firehouse. The celebrations are cut short as the bell rings and they spring into action. They are called to a homeless camp that’s been set ablaze. Several of the residents have to be kept back as the people try to run back in to grab any items. An explosion throws Joe back, nearly slicing his neck on a piece of shrapnel.
Casey saves a man, Big Jim, who’s knocked out and burned from the wreckage. Casey remembers him from a previous case involving a drug overdose where he refused to call in for help.
Back at Firehouse 51, Lieutenant Greg Grainger arrives to ask Sylvie for some medical supplies that he clearly doesn’t need, but he’s really only there to see Sylvie since he’s been crushing on her. Kidd sees right through this ploy and calls him out on it. Grainger even goes to Molly’s and hits on Sylvie, but she rejects him saying that her latest experiences with men haven’t been good for her.
A girl from the homeless camp, Vanessa also arrives at the firehouse and talks to Ritter and Casey about the fire. The man Casey saved, Big Jim, took care of the place and prohibited any items that may have caused danger to the homeless camp. She thinks that the fire was started on purpose by a man named Dixon, who Jim kicked out of the camp because he started a garbage can fire that got out of hand. Ritter, who seems to have taken a liking to Vanessa, finds her and gives her a new copy of The Secret Garden, which she mentioned she lost her copy of in the fire. He also gives her food and some fresh clothes, which further shows his infatuation with her.
Casey and Severide return to the scene of the fire, which is already under construction to be rebuilt. A nearby man, Al, tells Casey that his neighbor called the city to quickly clean up the area. Severide sees a homeless man sifting through the trash and discovers him to be Dixon, the man that might have set the fire. At Chicago Med, Big Jim is stable, and Casey and Severide ask him about Dixon. Jim says that he found several propane bottles outside his tent that caught fire, and gives them whereabouts on Dixon, leading the two to believe that Dixon was also trying to kill Big Jim.
Shortly after, Severide and Casey face administrative problems. Since the city already cleaned up the scene, they can’t flag the fire as arson, leading to the fact that the two will most likely have to cut some corners just to find Dixon.
Cruz returns home to his wife Chloe and lies about how he got his injury from the shrapnel on his face. She believes the lie, leaving Joe faced with how to approach his next move. His fellow squad members played a prank on Cruz, “framing” the piece of shrapnel that almost cut his head off. Severide takes the shrapnel because it could be used as evidence as Casey sees a label for a local hardware store. At the store, Casey asks the owner about Dixon and to look at his security tapes and recruits the firehouse to search through the footage.
Gianna and Sylvie are called out to a cemetery, where a gravestone has fallen on top of a man’s arm. Firehouse 40 (with Grainger at the helm) shows up to help and they take the rescue. Turns out the cemetery is a clown graveyard and it’s full of clowns, leaving Sylvie uncomfortable with the situation.
At the firehouse, Vanessa shows up and tells Ritter that Big Jim has died from his injuries, which makes the team more determined to find Dixon as now it’s become a murder case. When they finish the tapes, they discover that it wasn’t Dixon who started the fire, but Al, the man who lived near the camp, who bought the propane and set fire to the homeless camp. A much different plot twist for an arson episode since they usually just trace one guy until they find him instead of giving us a red herring.
Ritter takes Vanessa out to get some food and reveals that a friend of his grew up homeless and he has always wanted to help those that are homeless. Sylvie finally decides to go out with Grainger as the episode ends with Cruz finding out that his wife is going to have a boy.
There was also a mini subplot about Gianna and Gallo having formed their relationship last week. Not much happened with them in this episode to really take much ground, but I’m sure that’ll grow as the weeks go by.
Sometimes I feel like when Chicago Fire runs out of some storylines, they just rehash an arson case, making it look like Chicago has arson cases every other week. However, they used the red herring trope, which hasn’t really been used by the show in these situations in some time. This made the episode a little more surprising. However, it always seems like there’s arson after arson, and it’s beginning to get a little stale. I’m hoping as the series progresses that they can find new ways to uncover mysterious fires rather than just arson. Once again, I feel like the show is relying on way too many subplots at once to organize it into one cohesive episode: the Gianna and Gallo plot didn’t even need to be there and the episode still would’ve been the same. Sometimes the plots get to be a little much to juggle all at once.
What did you think of tonight’s episode of Chicago Fire? Leave a comment below.
Chicago Fire Review: A Risky Decision (9×06)
After last week’s dramatic change in form, Chicago Fire returned to its usual format by having a few storylines at once, juggling them all, with its regular twists and turns. This week, we saw Gallo disobeying a direct order, Casey’s new relationship, the strain of Severide and Kidd’s relationship, Herrmann and Cruz having a “Mouch mystery,” and Sylvie and Gianna working together to uncover some mysterious calls.
At the beginning of the episode, we see the station called to a gas station that collapsed and gasoline leaking everywhere. Casey ordered everyone to not go in in the case that there’s an explosion, and demands Gallo go find the shut off switch for the fuel. As he searches, he sees a woman unconscious laying in a puddle of fuel, and dives in to save her as the gas station explodes. After the explosion subsides, Gallo brings the unconscious woman out to safety. Upon realizing that Gallo disobeyed this direct order, he sends him home for the day, saying that it was complete disrespect.
After learning that Cruz’s wife is pregnant, Herrmann keeps asking him about the baby, while trying to keep it secret. Mouch, eavesdropping, tries to join the conversation, which makes the two shut up instantly, leaving Mouch suspicious that they’re talking about him and “seeing his secret.” This leaves Herrmann and Cruz suspicious that Mouch is now hiding something, and recruit Ritter to investigate.
Paramedics Sylvie and Gianna are called out to an incident where a woman is having a seizure in a park. As they rush to her aid, the woman is almost instantly better, and doesn’t want to go to the hospital, and her and her boyfriend get up and run away. Later on, the two are called to an incident where a man almost sawed his leg off while working in his garage. Sylvie gives the man fetanol, which doesn’t seem to affect the man, even after giving him the maximum dose. This brings in Chief Paramedic Colson to arrive to Firehouse 51, and informs Sylvie that no fetanol was in the man’s system at the hospital, and becomes suspicious that Gianna might be stealing the drug and replacing it with a placebo. Boden assures him that Gianna would never do something like that, but Colson still has to open an investigation.
Earlier in the season, Casey rescued a woman named Sydney, and has started seeing her to try and get over his feelings for Sylvie. Severide even catches her leaving their apartment early in the morning, thinking that Casey has fully moved on. Casey, however, is still stuck on Sylvie, and while out on a date with Sydney tells her that he still has feelings for Sylvie, to which Sydney shockingly is okay with it, and says that it’s okay.
Kidd, who is still upset that Severide is giving her the cold shoulder about the lieutenant’s test, tells Chief Boden that she wants to take a break from studying and focus on her Girls on Fire program, saying that she thinks her time would be better spent there. When Kidd’s protégé Kylie tells Severide that she’s doing this, he (finally) discovers that his behavior is preventing Kidd from pursuing her dreams.
Meanwhile, Gianna and Sylvie ask the 9-1-1 operator who made the call about the woman with the seizure, and that it was a bystander. Upon further investigation from Chicago Med, as well as another call to a scene, they find out that the woman is faking seizures, and while paramedics are “caring” for her, the boyfriend steals the paramedics fetanol and replaces it, so they have the drug. Sylvie and Gianna catch the two in the act, and they are arrested and Gianna’s name is cleared.
Gianna goes to Gallo’s apartment, asking how he’s doing since Casey sent him home. He said that he wanted to do the rescue of the woman and acted in the moment. He knew that he should have approached it better, but he doesn’t regret doing it. Gianna and Gallo finally share a kiss (as well as a whole evening together), but Gallo is hesitant to tell Cruz. Upon arriving to his next shift, Casey tells Gallo that what he did was wrong, but at the end of the day, the rescue was made, and that no one got hurt. He also warns him to be careful next time a situation like that is to occur.
While Herrmann and Cruz continue to talk about Cruz’s baby, Mouch reveals that he lost a bet with his wife Trudy, and he had to get her name tattooed on his butt (and shows them), closing the Mouch mystery case. Gallo then admits to Cruz that he and Gianna shared a night together and didn’t want to hide it from him.
Severide goes to Kidd and explains his situation to her, and she said that all she ever wanted as she goes to become a lieutenant is his support, no matter what. Severide explains that he was scared that she would feel like she didn’t really earn the job, to which she says otherwise. She said that she climbed up the ranks of the Chicago Fire Department herself, without anyone’s help. He assures her that her determination is how he knows that he screwed up, and plans to stick by her side. They finally make up as this weeks episode comes to a close.
Since the show has come back to form, I think the show has done a better job with juggling its many storylines. I personally am happy that they aren’t having Casey’s new relationship a long-time arc, and that he knows that he still has feelings for Sylvie. The Kidd/Severide storyline is also closing, meaning that the show is going to start shifting to something else, and not drowning that out. I personally like that this is happening because the show has had a habit of really stretching out the main plotlines to their full extent, almost to the point of over exercising them and it gets a little stale. The only storyline that seems to be sticking around now is the one between Casey and Sylvie, which I’m sure will come to a head in the coming weeks.
What were your thoughts on tonight’s new episode of Chicago Fire? Leave a comment below.
Chicago Fire Review – Something a Little Different (9×05)
When it comes to long-running shows, there comes a point where the show sticks to its format and goes through the motions of each episode until the finale. Most of the time, it works, and viewers come in week after week to watch their favorite characters.
And sometimes, the showrunners will completely shake up the format of an episode to tell a deeper story for the week, and that’s when some of a series best episodes can come from. That is what happened on tonight’s episode of Chicago Fire.
Rather than spend the hour juggling three or four different storylines, tonight was a focus on two of Firehouse 51’s secondary characters: Joe Cruz and Christopher Herrmann, and it only took place inside one location for two-thirds of the episode. The scenes were longer, structured in a way that the show has never taken before, and we get insight on two characters that have been with the show from the very beginning. Whether this was a planned episode, or adjusted for the sake of filming during a pandemic, it worked.
The episode hits the ground running: Herrmann walking around the firehouse having a good morning, while Cruz seems a little out of it, clearly with something on his mind. The team is called to a storage unit fire, and Herrmann says that while eating Chinese food with his family the night before, his fortune cookie said that today would be his lucky day (hence the episode title!) The 10-story storage unit has a fire on one of its upper floors, so the team readies themselves to climb a lot of stairs. However, Herrmann sees an opportunity to bypass the stairs and use a freight elevator instead, going up with contractor Trevor, and employee of the unit Holly. At the last moment, Herrmann brings Cruz on the elevator. As the elevator begins its way up, a cable burned by the fire collapses, crashing the elevator, and trapping the four inside the elevator.
What ensues is an episode of survival. Trevor’s leg is broken when some canisters of solvent falls on him, and Cruz and Herrmann help make a splint to keep him steady. With communications to the rest of the team gone, Cruz and Herrmann have to rely on their wits and quick thinking to help them survive this ordeal.
As the episode progresses, each character has a moment of reflection and awareness that helps them. It is revealed that the reason that Cruz was a little out of it at the beginning of the episode is because his wife, Chloe, is pregnant, and Cruz is trying to keep it secret. Herrmann tells the story of how when his wife was pregnant with their first child, she slipped on some ice and fell and hurt her stomach. Herrmann believed that the child was gone, but was perfectly fine. Trevor talked about how he and his high school girlfriend had a kid young, and how they were great parents even though they grew apart, until his son grew up and married a woman who drove a wedge into their relationship. While Holly doesn’t have any kids, she talks about how she never wanted to work at a storage unit facility, and that she’s been trying to be in the restaurant industry for years.
The situation worsens when another elevator cable snaps, leaving Cruz figuring out that if another one goes, the whole elevator will go down. Reflecting how his late friend, Otis knew his way around a circuit board, Cruz opens up the panel on the wall, but Holly is frantic and grabs the wires, short-circuiting the elevator, and knocking her out.
Herrmann suggests that they need to lighten the load of the elevator, because if they keep up the weight, they will fall and die. He comes up with the idea of emptying the solvent tanks through the bottom of the elevator, since they weigh a ton. This works effortlessly, and the pressure of being too heavy lightens up.
While it looks like they have to play the waiting game at this point, they get a small signal from their communications, and they hear that Mouch is down in the fire that the rest of the team is fighting, sending instant feelings of nervousness through Cruz and Herrmann, knowing that they can’t help their friend who might be dead. Cruz climbs onto of the cannisters and starts pounding on the ceiling panels of the elevator to knock the cables to the side so that they can escape.
As Herrmann’s fortune cookie would say, things got very lucky for our favorite firefighters. Cruz manages to knock the cables aside, they hear through their communications that Mouch is alive, and they can safely climb on top of the elevator, which is starting to fill up with smoke. As they lift Holly and Trevor out, Herrmann gets through to Boden, who sends the rest of the squad to safely get them out of the building!
Outside, Trevor asks Holly out to lunch before being put in the ambulance to take care of his broken leg. Goes to show that tragedy and adrenaline can really spice up a friendship into maybe something more. Herrmann promises Cruz that he will be quiet about Chloe’s pregnancy, and rushes over to Mouch to give his longtime friend a big hug.
As I said before, this episode was one of the best that Fire has had in years. The writing was superb and the direction and editing of the episode made it the most ambitious episode of the series so far. However, this episode would not have been possible without the spectacular and heartfelt performances from David Eigenberg as Herrmann and Joe Minoso as Cruz. These two carried the episode with emotion, humor, and dedication to the roles that they have been playing for nine years, and told the stories of the trials and tribulations that it takes to be a firefighter, a parent, and a human being. It was a fantastic episode, and I hope that the show, as well as the other Chicago shows, take a page out of this book, and format an episode like this, focused on one or two people in a tough situation. It helps keep all of the storylines in check, so that there isn’t a constant back and forth from remembering which storyline is which, and how it impacts the others.
But for tonight, bravo David Eigenberg and Joe Minoso, for their brilliant work on tonight’s episode, and I look forward to seeing how the rest of the season progresses.
What were your thoughts on tonight’s groundbreaking episode of Chicago Fire? Leave a comment below!
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